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Tip: Understanding Rank

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

When you do a search, you can sort the results bibliographically alphabetical or by “rank”. What is Rank?

Rank refers to the search engine’s “best guess” as to the relevance of the result to the search you specified. The exact method of ranking used varies a bit depending on the search. In its most basic level, when you specify a single search term, rank looks at the density of the matches for the word in the document, and how close to the beginning of the document they appear as a measure of importance to the paper’s topic. The documents with the most matches and where the term is deemed to have the most importance, have the highest “relevance” and are ranked first (presented first).

When you specify more than one term to appear anywhere in the article, the method is similar, but the search engine looks at how many of those terms appear, and how close together they appear, how close to the beginning of the document, and can even take into account the relative rarity of the search terms and their density in the retrieved file, where infrequent terms count more heavily than common terms.

To see a simple example of this, search for the words (not the phrase, so no quotes):

unconscious communications

Look at the density of matches in each document on the first page of the hits. Then go to the last page of matched documents, and observe the density of matches within the documents.

A more complex search illustrates this nicely with a single page and only 15 matches:

counter*tr* w/25 “liv* out” w/25 enact*

There are a lot of word forms and variants of the words (due to the * wildcards) above that can match, but the proximity (w/25) clause limits the potential for matching. What’s interesting here though is how easily you can see the match density decrease as you view down the short list.

The end result of selecting order by rank is that the search engine’s best “guess” as to which articles are more relevant appear higher on the list than less relevant articles.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Hurewitz, M. Katz, E. (1994). Psychoanalysis of Schizophrenia: A Successful Outcome Presenter: Michael Robbins, M.D. January 20, 1994 Joyce Lerner, C.S.W.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(3):275-275.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(3):275-275

Scientific Meetings of the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis of Schizophrenia: A Successful Outcome Presenter: Michael Robbins, M.D. January 20, 1994 Joyce Lerner, C.S.W.

Edited by:
Michael Hurewitz, Ph.D.

Edward Katz

Michael Robbins presented a detailed case study of a course of psychoanalytic psychotherapy with a schizophrenic patient. The report included a history of the patient from childhood, family dynamics, parental attributes and behaviors, and the difficulties that brought the patient under his care. She received therapy from Robbins, both in the hospital and as an outpatient, between the ages of nineteen and twenty-five. Adjunctive pharmacotherapy was incorporated into her treatment.

Robbins, author of Experiences of Schizophrenia (1993: Guilford, New York), prefaced his presentation by reminding the audience of the interpenetration of organic and environmental factors in the etiology of schizophrenia. He noted that identical twin studies cast doubt on the thesis that schizophrenia is solely organic. Experience can modify an organic disposition to develop the disorder. Furthermore, the fact that analytic therapy of a schizophrenic patient can be successful provides additional evidence that more than organic considerations deserve to be included in discussions of the etiology and history of schizophrenia. Nevertheless, Robbins emphasized, failures are also common in these treatments. Determinations of success and failure, he said, depend significantly on how the goals of treatment are described. A core vulnerability to schizophrenia in certain individuals seems evident, but this vulnerability is lessened or strengthened by environmental factors. In this connection, for example, parents may either exploit or compensate for their child's disorder. Varying degrees of denial by parents of a child's schizophrenia are commonplace.

In the discussion, ably moderated by Joyce Lerner, members of the audience said that the clinical presentation was unusual in its thoughtfulness, respect for the patient, and in the quality of rapport that this exceptional therapist demonstrated.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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